Mrs Elise Casey, an elderly patient with dementia, resided at Stamford Bridge Beaumont Care Home subject to a Deprivation of Liberty authorisation. Elise sadly passed away in 2017, at the age of 94, while suffering with pneumonia.
Ms Susan Milner, daughter of Elise’s lifelong friend, grew up considering Elise as her family and referred to her as “Aunty Elise”. In 2011 Ms Milner was appointed Deputy for Elise’s property and affairs.
The case against Barchester Healthcare Homes
Ms Milner has taken legal action against the care home, alleging that that Elsie’s rights under the Human Rights Act were breached, as a result of the care she received. Ms Milner alleges breaches under Article 2 which protects the “right to life” and Article 3 which prohibits “inhuman or degrading treatment”.
There were repeated instances of Elsie being left unable to access the toilet and left in a soiled state for prolonged periods. She was exposed to inappropriate methods of restraint by untrained staff, compromising her dignity and well-being it is likely that she was often left thirsty and hungry. Elsie also suffered falls on multiple occasions.
Following a report from a whistle-blower, the Care Quality Commission carried out unannounced inspections in August and September of 2017, shortly after Elise’s death. The care home was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed into special measures. Multiple failings were identified, and inspectors found that two residents had not had a shower or bath for more than a year.
Barchester Healthcare Homes applied to have the whole claim struck out. They argued that Ms Milner did not have standing to bring the claim, because she did not qualify as an “indirect victim,” given that she was not biologically related to Elise.
On 15 February 2022, High Court judge Master Davison proceeded to strike out the claim under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act but concluded that further consideration was required, in respect of the alleged violation of Article 3, which prohibits “inhuman or degrading treatment”.
Master Davison went on to concluded that Ms Milner had a relationship with Elise akin to a mother and daughter relationship, despite the fact that they were not biologically related. Consequently, Ms Milner may continue with her claim against the care home.
This is a welcomed acknowledgement by the Courts, that families come in all shapes and size. Those who do not have biological next of kin, can still have someone fighting for justice on their behalf if they have passed away, or they lack capacity.